As Fairbanks is located in central Alaska, the temperatures here can get quite extreme, and visitors used to warmer climes should avoid the winter (which lasts from September to April) unless heavily prepared for the cold. Even in the summer, the city is subject to rapid temperature fluctuations and storms, including hail and snowstorms.

The long winter is very cold, with temperatures almost never climbing above freezing and temperatures in January wavering between an average of -20°F (-28°C) and -2°F (-19°C). It is not unusual to get five or six feet (roughly 1.5 to 2 meters) of snow per year, and ice fog on extremely cold days sometimes occurs.

During the summer, Fairbanks can become quite warm for its northern location, with an average July high of 72°F (22°C). However, temperatures often go into the 80s and occasionally even the 90s. Unexpected rainstorms also occur during this time, and the city gets much of its precipitation during this time. The annual average is close to 11 inches, with about half of that coming during the months of June to August.

During the short summer, the sun is above the horizon almost continuously, while in the winter, the sky remains dark for all but a few hours near noon each day.